You know that scene in "Bridesmaids" when all the guests at the bridal shower get to take home a puppy? Even as Kristen Wiig's character, Annie, seethes that her fellow bridesmaid would one-up her like this, audiences can't help thinking, "Awww, that is just adorable." Let's put it this way: There are no puppies in "Bachelorette." There is, however, a whole lot of cocaine.
The dark comedy from first-time writer-director Leslye Headland takes place the night before the wedding of Becky (Rebel Wilson). Three of her bridesmaids -- Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) -- are not only unhappy to be there, they're incapable of just sitting quietly through the events. Instead they do drugs, accidentally rip the bride's wedding dress and pay a visit to a strip club.
In advance of the movie's release on Friday, September 7, Headland spoke with The Huffington Post about her not-so-nice characters, the drastic measures she once took to get rid of a bridesmaid dress and the question no one ever asks her.
"Bachelorette" started as the gluttony play in your seven deadly sins series. What was it about weddings that made you associate them with that sin?
Having seen both my younger sisters get married, I was shocked at the amazing selfishness of everyone who came to the wedding. I was like, "Wow, you're really making today about you, aren't you? Um, yeah, let's work on your seating arrangement because that's obviously most important, not this woman pledging eternity to this man and their lives together. No, no, no, your cocktail is the most important thing, so let's take care of that for you."
I've spent my 20s going to wedding after wedding. Was it like that for you? Were you just kind of observing what weddings can bring out in people?
I didn't go to many in my 20s. I was invited, but I didn't go. I don't like them. What I love about weddings is the ceremony. I always cry during a wedding ceremony. Everything else is a nightmare. The only real experience I had with weddings was my sisters getting married. I loved both the men that they married. I thought they were perfect fits for them. But some of the old traditions just feel so hopelessly silly and outdated today. Like all the bridesmaids wearing the same outfit. Why? How is the mother of two and a young girl in her 20s the same woman?
And everyone says you can wear the dress again.
If anyone actually has worn their bridesmaid dress again, you can send it to me, I will put some ketchup on it and I will eat it. The last one I wore I actually threw out the window of the hotel I was staying at. They were like, "You could wear it again." I was like, "No, I threw it out." "In the garbage?" "No, out a window." They were like, "Um, remind us not to invite you to anything."
The movie deals with the idea of milestones. The women are around 30, and they're not where they expected to be. Did you ever feel pressure to hit certain milestones?
I certainly didn't feel that way in my romantic life. A wedding and a marriage and children are not things that I've ever pined after. I think if they came into my life, I'd be very grateful 'cause I see how they bless other people and how other people have these incredible experiences. But I wouldn't say it's something that I thought I needed to get in order to be a woman.
I feel like something that's happened in the last 25 years is that feminism went from equal pay and the right to choose [what happens to] our bodies to a list of things we have to do. It was like have a career, have a guy, have a kid, be thin, spend your money on clothing but not too much, have a family. I'm sort of like, "But I don't really want to have to do all this." I want to do what I want to do, which was I thought the point of all this. To see other women slipping into that made me sad. Not everyone's gonna get married. Not everyone's gonna have a sparkling, amazing career. Not everyone is gonna have a perfect body. If you can't be happy without those things, then I doubt those things, if you ever get them, will make you happy. I think that's the reason I relate with Regan even though I know that she's a very challenging character. I understand that throwing yourself over and over against the brick wall of perfection is going to make anybody miserable.
I have to tell you, going into your movie, I was worried it would be too mean-spirited and I wouldn't like it. I think maybe the reason I didn't have that reaction is that the characters' meanness came from their own internal struggles. They don't seem to be mean for the sake of being mean.
That's a really good observation, and I think that actually all three of the girls at some point had a certain amount of self-awareness. Like Katie says, "I think I might be stupid." And then she says, "I don't understand what everybody's saying most of the time." She knows what's up. She knows that she's "the stupid one." She's sort of fulfilling that role within the trifecta. I think that separates these characters from, for example, Neil LaBute's characters in "The Company of Men." Or Charlize Theron's character in "Young Adult." And I want to preface this by saying I love both of those movies. But I didn't want to make those movies. I wanted to make a movie about women that were self-aware and knew deep down that something was wrong. They just couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong.
We've talked before, and you're always very honest in your answers. Is there anything people haven't asked you that you wish they would?
You know, I always wish people would ask me what my inspirations were as a filmmaker because it's always about women and the characters being unlikable and cocaine and other people's movies that star women. And I'm like, "I am a filmmaker, and I did just make my first movie. And I'm really proud of it and I would like to sort of talk about the process of that." But I get why it's not that way. It's just different with women. Julie Delpy was talking about that at this round table that I did. It's like we just have to work harder, and that's just the end of it. But to answer my own question, the three major movies that we took a look at when making this film were "After Hours" by Scorsese, "What's Up, Doc?" by Peter Bogdanovich and "The Apartment" by Billy Wilder. And a lot of thought went into both the script and the production design and the costuming and all of those things. I love those films and really recommend them to anybody who is interested in film or just needs a good rental. I hope I didn't sound like I was complaining, but there's also a part of me that's like, "If I were a dude… if I had a penis…"